Sunday, March 31, 2013

You might be a runner if...

Everyone has their own version of this list. Here's mine.

You might be a runner if....

You’re on a first name basis with Hal Higdon, refer to him as your boyfriend, and everyone in your life knows who you mean.

Your GPS watch has a gender and name.

Waking up at 4am and slathering your body with Vaseline makes sense.

You spend Christmas and birthday money on race entries.

You regularly hop in the shower fully clothed after hot runs.

You have clothing and a plan for every temperature from 7 to 87 degrees.

You refer to anything under 5 miles as a “baby” or “quickie” run.

You’ve used the adjective “only” or “easy” in the same sentence as 12-miler.

Your mom mends your SmartWool socks because they're too expensive to replace because of a little hole.

You've said no to good dates because they would interfere with scheduled long runs.

You complain about not being able to get enough calories before a long run.

You know your running and exercise schedule 4 months ahead of time.

You schedule trips around races.

You know the location of every water fountain in a 10-mile radius.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I feel so damn unready

When I put together my audacious spring race schedule it seemed like a good idea. I've done marathons on consecutive weekends twice, I managed three in four weeks, but those all just happened because I was obsessed with a time and found geographically desirable races where I could try again (and again, and again). I certainly never planned it ahead of time.

This spring though I planned and committed to three marathons and the 4-way in four consecutive weekends and I feel completely unprepared.

I was already in shape so I didn't start Hal's program from day 1. I needed a few days in January to rest then resumed Hal's program with 10 weeks to go. I used the novice 2, the same program I used last summer, and followed it with 95% fidelity, even upgrading the 19 and 20 mile runs to 20 and 22 and I'm doing my miles as hills and intervals the last month. The 20 and 22 mile runs, however, I was sick both times! Yes I muscled through them, but neither was good.

Something else that wasn't good is the weather. I know we're all complaining about it, but it really made training outside difficult this year and running inside is better than nothing, but it's not the same.

I think another part of the problem is that I'm not looking at each race individually. I'm looking at the enormity of 4 marathons, wondering just what exactly was I thinking?

I can run 20 miles while sick, I can run on the treadmill for 3 hours, I don't even think twice about running 4-5 miles without stopping or walking once, but I still don't feel ready!!

Another area of concern is my shoes. I'm still wearing the pair I wore in my fall 2012 races because they are still supporting my feet and they still feel good. I don't think they'll last 4 races though. At what point do I start a new pair? No one wants to wear new shoes in a race.

After my 22 miler on Saturday I'm into the tapering phase of training, the gradual lessening of miles in anticipation of the race. I just wonder how in the world is it already taper time??? It arrived way too quickly!

At this point I know I can drag myself across the finish line, but that's not enough. I want to break 5 hours every time now. I anticipate my best spring time at Toledo, but I still want to be under 5 every time!

I also know at this point it's too late to do anything. I've trained and I can't do any more. Hal always cautions against over training. He says under training is better. Regardless I've passed the high point of training and there's nothing more I can do.

The crazy thing is that in just over a month, I'll be done with three fulls and the 4-way and I'll think "wow, it's over already? All that training and I'm done?! Now what?"

One area where I do feel absolutely ready is my race day food. I always have the same breakfast of a RedBull and a MetRX bar, so I bought enough to last me five racing days. Rather than go to the grocery store every Friday, I just stocked up.

I know :(

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Running on empty

Hal said to do 20 miles today, the biggie training run. I had decided months ago when I wrote my training program in pen that I would upgrade it to 22, in the attempt of pushing back or eliminating The Wall during the race.

It was a good plan, but I didn't anticipate getting sick. I slept 11 hours after a healthy serving of Nyquil, and while I felt so-so, it was far from good. I was up at 9 am, but it was freezing cold and gray. The forecast kept promising 37 and sun, so it made sense to wait a few hours and see if it improved.

Thankfully it did, but the whole time I was getting dressed, running was at the bottom of the list of things I wanted to do. Every fiber of my body was screaming to take a hot shower, put on clean pajamas, and lay down on the couch for the entire day.

I could run on Sunday, but I hate Sunday running. Besides there was no guarantee the weather or my health would be any better. Either or both could be worse. Hal always says once a run is missed, you can't make up for it, even if it's a long run. Once the opportunity has passed, it's wasted. I've read that so many times, and I understood it, but I still did not not not want to run!!!

Yet it was like my little Hal Higdon angel was sitting on my shoulder whispering "Just try."

So I did. The body can do incredible things when the mind stops limiting it. I went up to Dearborn to run the Martian out and back course again and after 2 miles, I wanted to turn around and go home, but Hal was there again telling me I was already dressed and on the course, go a little further.

I made it to 11 miles then turned around and went back to my car. Around mile 14 my body was completely shot, but the car was still 8 miles away. I've never been more tempted to hitchhike than I was today.

But I didn't. I put on my big girl pants and got through it. Final distance was 22.28, final time 4:19. My pace was 11:39, which was definitely slower than I wanted. It was significantly slower than my 20 mile pace, but it was better than my Free Press pace of 11:47, another time I was sick.

Sheesh, if I can get through these woozy head runs, I can get through anything!!!!

Wishing all the Rock CF racers the best of luck tomorrow!!!! Dan who's running the half, my two favorite secretaries who are running the relay together and Diane, in her very first race ever, the 5k. You will all do great!!!!!!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Ugh, another tweet I wish I could unsee

Hal just posted a link to the following story:

runDisney Introduces New Race, New Challenge, New Medals to Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

Today, runDisney reaches another milestone as we expand the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna with the addition of the Walt Disney World 10K, the Dopey Challenge, new medals and the return of the popular Runner’s World Challenge.
In 2006, the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend had a big year. The races had become so popular, the half marathon and the full marathon now had to be held on two separate days. This race day bifurcation led to another interesting development. It was now theoretically possible for a runner to run both races, so the team decided that if someone was goofy enough to do that, they deserved a medal. And thus, Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge was born with just over 2,300 runners receiving the first Goofy medal for their 39.3 mile accomplishment.
Through the years, “the Goofy” has been a favorite with our runners as well as a unique offering in the running industry. Well, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. This next year, runDisney is adding a 10K race to our Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend line-up, joining our already popular 5K, Half Marathon and Full Marathon. And you guessed it (we couldn’t help ourselves), we are now offering the Dopey Challenge to those runners who conquer ALL FOUR of our races. That’s right…completing the 5K, the 10K, the Half Marathon and the Full Marathon in the four consecutive days will earn you the Dopey Challenge Medal. That coveted piece of hardware will be clanging around the necks of our finishers with the Mickey Marathon medal, the Donald Half medal, the 5K Family Fun Run medal, the Goofy Challenge medal, and the new Minnie 10K medal.
Six medals for 48.6 miles over four days. I think I am just Dopey enough to do it. Come join me!
Ugh! Do I do it or "just" do the Goofy? I don't want to be at Disney for four days, especially the day of the 5K...What would I do all day long after the race? If it was condensed into two days, I'd absolutely do it. For example, do the half on Saturday morning, then the 10K late afternoon, then on Sunday run the marathon in the morning and shuffle through the 5K later on. I know Disney won't do that though because they want the runners out of the park before it opens to the public. Not to mention it would probably cost $600 or so just to enter, then add in the additional hotel nights and the flight change fee. Paying $320 for the Goofy is bad enough!

What's up with giving medals to 5K finishers??? Is this the future of running? Is it becoming like Little League where if you show up - no matter how terrible you are - you get the same recognition as the best player on the team? Which is not to imply that I'm the best - far from it, but finishing a marathon is significantly more difficult than finishing a 5K, and I feel really jaded when races give the same medal to the 5K folks as to the full marathon people. Heck I don't even like when the half and full get the same medal.

I fall to pieces

I've been teaching my second night class for three weeks now, so it's just about time I got sick. Financially I HAVE to teach the second class, but health wise, my body can't handle the physical stress of two jobs and marathon training.

Thursday morning I woke up with a sore throat. I worked all day and felt relatively ok, but skipped my Thursday run because I just wanted to lay down and close my eyes. I never fell asleep, so it was a total waste and running would have given me more energy. I was in bed at 9:50, read a little, then shut off the light and laid there, and laid there, and laid there, and eventually my alarm went off, without ever going into deep sleep. So frustrating!!!!!

Naturally tomorrow's long run is 22 big miles. Why does it always coincide with me feeling terrible?

My first race is 3 weeks away. I need to wrap myself in a bubble until the spring races are over.

Even before I started feeling sick, I was absolutely falling-over exhausted. I theorized if it was due to losing weight. Calories are a source of FUEL, but I've been deliberately restricting my intake. Does it follow that I'd have less energy as a result? Yeah, pretty much.

I mentioned it to my friend who said "Absolutely. When body needs energy because of lack of sleep, hunger or stress, it will try and over compensate. That's why we tend to overeat when tired because our body isn't getting it from sleep so looking elsewhere for energy. Could be opposite for you. You're hungry so body is looking for extra energy from sleep." It makes sense :(

I asked the doctor last year what I can do to stay healthier because I already take really really good care of myself. I exercise 6 times a week, incorporating cardio, weights and yoga. I eat super healthy. I get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. I never smoke or expose myself to second-hand smoke. I rarely drink. My biggest vice is a cup of coffee, so why am I constantly getting sick? She said "Some people just get sick more than others." Thanks jack@ss. Glad I paid you so much for that super great advice.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

LOVE it!!! DFP edition

I appreciate when races publish pictures of their medals ahead of time. I want to know what I'm running for!!!! I like to envision winning it, seeing it in my hands, around my neck, hanging with the others.

The Free Press published their 2013 medal super early. The ribbon is always nice and sponsor-free (except for the Free Press, but somehow I don't think of that as a sponsor spot).

I LOVE it!!!!! Can 2014 have a Pontiac Solstice??? :D

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sharing a good story

I was going to write about my run and bitch about the weather blah blah blah. Then I saw this story, which everyone will enjoy tons more.

From the Beaumont Enterprise:

Brain cancer patient wins Gusher Marathon

  • Iram Leon and daughter Kiana Leon finish the Gusher Marathon in 3 hours 7 minutes and 35 seconds taking first place in the full marathon on Saturday, March 9, 2013. Photo taken: Randy Edwards/The Enterprise
As Leon and his 6-year-old daughter Kiana finished first in the 2013 Gusher Marathon, he was sure to clarify to everybody that his daughter came in first and he came in second.
Leon said she is the center of his universe, his only child. Although the marathon does not usually allow strollers, the race organizers made an exception so he could push her throughout the race.
On a day with a detrimental headwind, the stroller felt "like a sail" at times, Leon recalled. But what was aerodynamically a disadvantage served as an invaluable source of inspiration.
"It can't be a disadvantage when it's what gets you going," said Leon, who lives in Austin. "Every doctor's appointment (I ask), 'Can I keep running and am I still fit to raise a kid?'"
Leon experienced his first seizure in November 2010.
He cannot drive a car, so he walks Kiana to school every morning.
He has had surgery and takes medication every day and more on marathon days, which carries a side effect of nausea. He said he threw up while running in the Austin Marathon, but was lucky and only did so after the race on Saturday.
The part of his brain where the tumor is lodged affects memory, language skills and spatial orientation. A left turn does not register to him as it would anybody else. Normally his running group directs Leon, but Saturday that duty fell to the bike that travels in front of the race leader.
Running is Leon's therapy - he said it beats sitting down with a therapist.
"People shouldn't wait to live until they're told they're dying," Leon said. "Go home and hug somebody and don't wait to be told you have a disease that's going to kill you. I ran my entire life and I was dumb enough to wait until I was told I was dying before I ran with my daughter."
Kiana gave out a "woo" at the hairpin turns. She would tell her father to run faster and look up at him through the window on the stroller's hood.
"I kind of just like sitting here," she said after the race. When at home, Leon said he braids Kiana's hair and the two will paint their toenails together. Leon added that although he and Kiana's mother are no longer together, he gets to see his daughter every day except for every other weekend.
He and Kiana listened to Disney songs on his iPhone before he plugged in his headphones toward the end of the race.
For the last couple of miles he listened to "Carry On" by Fun. on repeat because of one particular verse:
"My head is on fire
But my legs are fine."
It was what was playing when he and Kiana crossed the finish line.

Read more:

He has a longer story on his blog at

Monday, March 18, 2013


When the Martian marathon posted their medal in January, it was a hideous shade of chartreuse. They posted another picture and this one looks more like a grass green. In either case, I don't imagine I'll rank it among my favorites, or among the prettiest I've earned. The eyes were cut out in 2012 and I can't tell from this picture if it's the same.

The medals are different for the races as well. They are engraved Marathon, Half marathon, and 10K. I like that.

Another change was regarding my day off. I tried "no-exercise-Thursday" one week and I didn't like it one bit. I've been taking off Mondays for a few years and I've gotten used to it. Besides, my legs need to rest after my long Saturday run.

The last student I see on Thursdays has a half day this week, then night school doesn't meet next week, so I only had to miss one day with the student to go back to my normal schedule. During the four weeks of races, I just won't run on Thursdays, then after May 5, I can be more relaxed with the running schedule.

I remembered the third change - Columbia City changed the course!!! Marathoners will now do two laps of the half course. I have definite mixed feelings about this. Yes, the first half was tons easier, less hilly, more spectators, less wind, so I anticipate a better time this year. They made the change for safety reasons, and to provide more spectators and hopefully everyone will have better times. Yet part of me is disappointed because the second half was soooooooo hard. It's the type of course that really puts hair on your chest and one day I could tell my grandkids "This one year... when I ran Columbia City...." and they'd roll their eyes and think I was exaggerating, yet we all know truth is stranger than fiction.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A terrible terrible long run

I felt like crap all week. I went to bed at my normal 11pm or earlier, but I was still so exhausted, and the Saturday forecast did nothing to boost my energy - cold and overcast, with ZERO chance of sun. Aaaaargh!!!!

No idea who she is, but that's what the sky was like. Hate it!!!
I slept for 11 hours on Friday, then woke up to a text from a running friend who said "great day for a 15-miler." Without any inflection I had to ask "sarcasm?" Yes, very much so. He's good about running early in the day, so it was worrisome that he hadn't started his run yet by 1pm.

I was no better because I was DREADING the run. It had snowed on Friday night, it was cold, and it was sooooo overcast. It wasn't even cloudy, just a complete lack of sun. Bah! I hate that!!!! I can handle the cold, but give me some sun!!!!!!

I didn't even have the energy to drive up to Hines Drive to run along the Martian course. I just did my 10-mile loop around the neighborhood and it couldn't end fast enough.

I finished 10.8 miles at an average pace of 10:34 and I have no idea how I managed that fast of a pace because it felt terrible.

Friend texted me after his run and was complaining so much that I finally had to ask if someone needed a waaaaaambulance. It seems like everyone who ran yesterday had a terrible go of it. Stupid Michigan weather.

I hope I don't have another run that crappy until my spring AND fall races are over.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The week I just didn't have it

Hal's schedule for me this week is 5-5-8-12. To date I've done 3-3-nothing. The big 20 miler on Saturday wasn't too difficult (in a relative sense), but these short ones are killing me.

Tuesday I was supposed to do 5 miles, but the weather was nasty, 100% gray and freezing cold. I have a really difficult time getting motivated when there is NO sun. Wednesday was the same, but add in the time constraint of having to go to night school. The run isn't the problem, it's having to shower and get dressed but still eat dinner and get to work on time. Wednesday became another better-than-nothing day.

Thursday I was exhausted and dragging. It was sunny and mid 30s, but I just didn't have an 8 mile run in my body. Much more enticing was cooking dinner and laying down to watch the UMich basketball game. I got home from work at 9:40 and was in bed by 9:55.

Saturday is "only" a 12-miler. Somehow the long runs get done, one way or another. I should worry less about logging miles during the week and focus on speed work and hills at this point. My cardio ability is ready, my legs are ready, so I need to get them moving faster! The faster I run, the sooner I'm done!!!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Breaking the streak?

I've never run a half marathon. I did several 5Ks, two 8Ks then the marathons. I've never done a 10K either, but that doesn't seem as odd. Most people go from 5K to 10K to half to full, but I do things my own way :) It's gotten to be a fun little game - how many fulls can I do before my first half? I've been planning the Donald Duck half as the first part of the Goofy to be my first (only?) half.

Then I read one of Hal's tweets: "Join me at the Blue Grass Half Marathon in Lexington, KY on March 30, a run through Horse Country. I'm doing the 7. "

Why oh why oh why did I read that??? I want to go meet Hal!!!! He'll be at the expo and I really want to meet him!

He has me running 12 miles that day as the first taper week, so doing 13 wouldn't interfere with my tapering in any way.

Yet it makes NO rational sense to drive 5 1/2 hours and pay close to $100 to run something I could run at home. Assuming I did it, would I even hang the medal on my hanger? Or is that reserved for full marathon medals? If I commit to a marathon in every state, this wouldn't even count because I would do 50 MARATHONS, not halfs, so I'd have to go back to Kentucky anyway.

What to do...What to do?

As with anything running related, I hashed it out with Indy.

I texted this morning, "HAL is going to be at a half in Lexington on March 30. He says to run 12 that weekend anyway. I rly want to meet him, but do I break my no half streak??"

"It's Hal - you should break it for your running guru. Soooooo obvious an answer. Don't doubt yourself. It's Hal!" he said.

When I mentioned it not making any sense because I could run it at home, he had an answer for that as well, "Makes perfect sense. It's Hal!"

Ooooooh I don't know! It won't interfere with work in any way, and I would be home in time for Easter Sunday church. It's not rational, not at all, but it's HAL!!!!

Sunday, March 10, 2013


I woke up Saturday morning gagging on a big green loogie. Ok that's probably the grossest thing I've ever written and it was an awful way to wake up :( My day didn't get much better from there.

I was invited to two little kid birthday parties and forced to decide "Who do I love more?" It's an impossible question. Before I could go to either party, though, I had a date with my shoes to run 20 miles. I knew it would take close to 5 hours by the time I drove to the park and actually ran, so I ate breakfast and went immediately.

So often I've dreaded my 20-miler, but this time I just took it in stride. I knew I had to do it, I knew I could do it, so set aside the time and get it done, girl!

It was cold-ish, and I was probably dressed a little too cold for the weather, but I didn't have any extra clothing in my car and no time to drive home for more, so I sucked it up and dealt with it.

I've had a slight head cold all week and I was a tiny bit woozy yesterday, but nothing as bad as the Free Press marathon. It was even a little nice to look at my watch and realize "Wow! I've already run 17 minutes?!"

It was mostly sunny and my body felt good. I didn't feel any massive pain or agony or exhaustion. So often my body is screaming to walk, but I went the first HOUR with only one 1-minute walk. Sweet!

For some reason it seemed a good idea
 to walk up and down the 174 steps...
It didn't get much harder from there. At mile 10 I stopped for a minute to stretch and turn around and I still felt great. Everything was really good until mile 15 when I ran out of water and all the park restrooms were closed for the winter. Booo!

When it was all said and done, I ran 20.22 miles at an average pace of 11:02. My best race pace was Columbia City where I averaged 11:22, so yesterday was really really good. It was 40 degrees and I had a minor cold, and I still bested my best pace by 20 second per mile! Sweet!!!

If I extrapolate the numbers a little and assume I could finish 6 more miles at 12 minutes each, which seems to be appropriate for the end of a race, it would have been a 4:52 finish. Add in warmer weather and a healthy runner and I HAVE THIS!!!!

I was on Hines Drive again and yes, it's still boring! It was marginally more tolerable when it was sunny, so I just may get through the Martian. De-sensitizing myself to the boredom seems to be working :)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Running through the pain

It often seems like running marathons is a matter of running though the pain. The location and severity vary, but it seems like something is always not quite right.

My right quad has been sore for a week now, but this is a common one. It's not pain per se, it's just not right. it feels overworked, but doesnt feel pulled or strained. After a few miles, I stop noticing it. Yoga tomorrow will help it. I had the same muscular pain in the fall and a massage helped alleviate it.

The quad is one of the biggest muscles in the body, so you'd think that was my worst problem, but it's not. After my awful 12.55 miler on the dreadmill last weekend, my right 4th toe looked bruised, but it didn't really bother me. The past few days, however, it has hurt, sometimes pretty bad. I can run through it, so I'm going to leave it alone for now and only see a doctor if I can't run.

It gets dicey though because my races start 5 weeks from Saturday, so if I need to have the nail removed, I'd rather do it now than the day or week before the race.

Most people would have the common sense approach "If it only hurts when you run, stop running!!!" I'm not most people though...

Aside from the nagging minor injuries, I haven't felt right this week. Most days I've gone to bed with a sore throat and woken up feeling the same. That's always the first sign of a raging cold / bronchitis, but in four days it hasn't moved past the sore throat phase. Again, I can run through it, so I do.

Despite feeling moderately under the weather, both my runs this week have been GREAT so I'm doing something right!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A weighty quandary

I weighed myself on January 16 then I got serious about losing weight on January 18. As of this morning, I was down 10.5 pounds. The really frustrating part - I don't see any difference!!! But I'm not losing to look better, I'm losing to run better, so what I look like is largely immaterial.

Is it working? Yes, but I can't say the weight loss is definitively why my running is better. My times certainly aren't better, but it feels like less work. Running actually feels pretty easy now compared to how it felt last year.

There are two big variables though. One is losing weight, the other is that this is the third time I've successfully completed a marathon training program without injury, both of which are significant variables and either could be the sole reason for my easier runs.

I'd like to lose 2.5 more and the Martian is 6 weeks from yesterday, so I'll get there :)

My Saturday run wasn't great this week. The weather was gross and nasty - 100% cloud cover and seriously cold. Did I run outside and freeze in the gloom? Or did I run inside and bore myself silly? Neither choice was good :( I finally dragged myself inside and it better be the last time I do so until December!!!!!

Hal said to run 13. I made it to 12.55 and said to heck with it. No difference was going to be made or lost in those last 0.45 miles. My time was terrible, as it usually is on the dreadmill.

All week long I had been planning to eat Chicken Shack with a big Dairy Queen blizzard for dinner, but as soon as I got to my car, I thought "I want Mexico Way!" It's a tiny, divey restaurant in Ecorse that I always preface with "I've never gotten food poisoning..." They have the greatest burritos and five of them satisfied my hunger and my junk craving for the week :)

Last time I was at REI I bought the Amphipod belt Nita had recommended. I didn't love it, but REI has the greatest return policy, so I figured I'd try it, then take it back if I didn't like it. I take my water belt on my long runs, so yesterday was possibly the only long run I'll have to try it before the marathons. I put my camera in it so the weight was correct. I like to wear my race number belt up high on my rib cage, so that's where I wore this. The weight of the camera kept dragging down the back, though, so after two minutes, I pulled it down to my hips. I normally avoid things on my hips because they inevitably creep up to my waist, but the weight of the camera kept this belt in place and I wore it for the first hour, pretty much unaware of it. It'll work.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Yeah, I registered

The registration price for the Martian marathon increases in two weeks. Of the five different courses I've run (having done the Free Press twice) the Martian is by far the worst. It's sooooooo boring. It's somehow worse than being on a dreadmill for 4+ hours.

Yet I registered before the price increase. I should know better by now. Last year I didn't know how bad it was, this year I'm doing it because it'll enable me to do 4 in 4 weeks. Plus it's practically in my back yard. 

Initially two of my friends were planning to run that morning as well. Indy was going to do the half, but he's still hurting and not training from his foot injury. Ironman might do the full, but everything is up in the air until he hears about a job for which he interviewed. What's funny is that he ran it last year, but we didn't know each other then. For what it's worth, I smoked him time wise :D The other runners I know never planned to run it. Nita will be traveling to Boston for the big race, Green Hat is training for the Bayshore marathon later in the spring. The middle school secretary is limiting her races for financial reasons. She said what they are but I don't remember. Refinishing the basement, maybe? I'll probably be out there all alone :(